Fighting behind the frontlines: army wives in the eastern DRC

This report offers rare insight into the tough and extraordinary lives of the DRC’s military spouses, who often follow their husbands on deployment.

The wives of soldiers of the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC, Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) may not be very visible, but they are an integral part of the military. They live with soldiers, and often their children, in and around military camps and deployment sites – including in the most insecure zones.

The military, however, defines them as civilians and does not provide them with any benefits packages, nor does it invest much in facilities like health care centres. Together with soldiers’ low and irregular pay, this causes army wives to struggle to make a living.

About the authors

Maria Eriksson Baaz is an associate professor in Peace and Development Research at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg and a senior researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden. Her research areas are within defense reform, civil-military relations, gender and militarisation, conflict-related sexual violence and post-colonial theory.

Judith Verweijen is a researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden, and the Conflict Research Group at Ghent University, Belgium. She specialises in the study of state and non-state armed forces in the Kivu provinces (eastern Democratic Republic of Congo).

Development partners
This report had been made possible with funding from the governments of Australia and The Netherlands. The ISS is also grateful for support from the other members of the ISS Partnership Forum: the governments of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the USA.
Related content